Every few years, the rumors resurface. “SEO is dead!” a dental client will dramatically tell me. Rather than dismissing their claim outright, I’ll dig deeper to find out where the opinion originated. Inevitably, I’ll find it comes from a lecture, or a tradeshow, or some hapless rep selling review software, or Google ads, or social media services.
All are valuable digital marketing options, but none are the complete replacement of dental SEO. In fact, each is integrally tied to the other.
The rumors of SEO’s death are greatly exaggerated
In fact, SEO has been pronounced “dead” so many times that we should start calling it zombie marketing. SEO was declared dead for the first time in 1997, just one year after Google launched. It died again in 2005, as told by web entrepreneur Jeremy Schoemaker, and yet again in 2009 by the infamous (at least in the SEO world) Matt Cutts of Google itself. Yet despite all evidence to the contrary, the rumor persists. Think about it. Do you go to Instagram to find a new restaurant, or do you start with a Google search? Your patients are no different.
So the question remains, why does the rumor keep resurfacing? And, does it have any legs in the world of dental SEO? To start with, Google updates its algorithm 500 to 600 times a year, and only speaks in broad terms about how websites should accommodate the update. It seems impossible for even the experts at the top of the SEO chain to understand every nuance of an algorithm update, much less those companies who have offered SEO for dentists for decades.
Secondarily, social media has enraptured the attention of nearly every US adult. It only seems natural to assume that social media would squash the need for SEO. In fact, a whopping 3.6 billion people worldwide and 82% of all US adults have enrolled in some type of social media account. Compare that to the 70,000 Google searches every second and…oh, well, hmmm, maybe social media isn’t quite as powerful as 60 Billion searches for SEO ranked websites every single day.
It’s all about intent
Here’s why I believe that “SEO is dead” is a complete fallacy. Those who make this declaration have no understanding of the new patient journey. Think about it. Patients typically don’t wake up one morning thinking, “I need a new dentist!” (Well, unless an abscess has kept them up all night, and we all know how much fun those cases are.)
Instead, there’s a trigger. This patient may have had a less-than-optimal experience at their last dental visit. They may have just moved and need a local, more convenient provider. They may be considering teeth whitening, or implants, or a first-ever dental visit for their child.
The new patient journey starts with Brand Awareness. Social media, or perhaps a run-in with your practice’s name at their kid’s soccer game or a local health fair, plants the seed of your brand in that potential patient’s mind. After Brand Awareness comes Consideration, the point at which your prospective patient starts to do their homework on Google or even social media: Who offers implants? What happens with a smile makeover? What do patients say about the dentists in their market?
This is known as informational search, which accounts for 80% of all search queries.
You’re at the top of my list
During consideration, the prospective patient may have used a long tail keyword search – commonly meaning full questions or specific search phrases – to answer their questions. This is where dental website blogs come in handy, as a brilliant aspect of content marketing. Answer those seemingly obscure questions, and it helps you show up at the top of Google.
Finally, once the prospective patient is ready to make a decision, they fire up Google and enter what we call a money keyword, such as “dentist near me.” If you are actively engaging in professional SEO services, your site will now likely appear in the top three Google My Business listings, or on page one of an organic search.
At last, your efforts have paid off by being at the top of the search engines once that potential patient is ready to buy.
Wanted, dead or alive.
So, ask yourself, is SEO really dead? If you’ve actively used social media to create Brand Awareness, and Google reviews for the Consideration phase, don’t you want to be on page one when that prospective patient is ready to finally move from Consideration to Decision? Of course you said yes, because who on earth wants to put in all that effort without locking down that new patient once they are ready to move forward? So, the next time you hear “Dental SEO is dead,” ask yourself who said it and if they really have your best interests at heart.
We’ll talk in future articles about how to find a competent dental SEO company, what you should expect in terms of results, and what you might expect to pay. Until then, rest easy.
Dental SEO is not dead, assuming your marketing company truly understands how it works.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Xaña Winans is the CEO and founder of Golden Proportions Marketing, the leading dental marketing company dedicated to the growth of private, group and DSO dental practices throughout North America.
Founded in 2001, her agency provides strategy driven, full service solutions including branding, internal marketing, advertising, websites, and digital marketing.
Goal driven results are at the heart of everything she creates.
Xaña is a board member of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants and lectures nationally on the topic of dental marketing.
She publishes regularly in Dentistry Today and Dental Economics, and is a frequent guest on industry podcasts.